Urban Shelter

This penthouse has a peculiar typology: besides its reduced size of around 70m2 and its location within the fulfilled neighborhood of Chueca it pretends to be a detached house; it is an urban shelter in the center of Madrid.
The project started like a game, how to incorporate 15 desires or fantasies of a couple within a small rooftop. Some of these wishes were a bit uncommon for small urban apartments: simultaneous indoor/outdoor shower, breakfast with views, picnic in the park, golf at home, bathing on the countryside, cooking in the middle of the house, sunset cocktail bar, dining under the stars, exhibitionist theater in the living room, etc.
Three curtains made out of artificial materials, in combination with a collection of special details, provoke a series of unexpected moments within the limited space of the house: a 10-meter white leather curtain organizes the program on the lower level hiding or unveiling the office, the kitchen and the wardrobe; a gold curtain covers the indoor/outdoor shower framing Madrid’s skyline; a cantilevered stair gives access to the upper level, through a door installed on the floor and counterbalanced with a hanging stone, where a grass curtain wraps the bedroom floor and the terrace converting the mezzanine into a small park overlooking the city.
A special effort has been made in re-using the existing materials found in the original abandoned attic and adding a simple palette of cost-efficient and low maintenance materials. -The entire roof had to be rebuilt and it re-used most of the existing roof tiles, all the wood structure was repaired and installed back in place while the excess of beams on the roof was used to reinforce the mezzanine. The wood of the original structure and the old damaged floor was repaired, left exposed and treated with organic paint. The fireproof-antibacterial artificial lawn in the mezzanine protects the roof insolation and leaves easy access for maintenance. A generous cavity drywall was built to the thin existing walls to add the necessary insolation for comfortable living conditions and the extra space was used to hide all sliding windows and for the return air conducts of the heating system to efficiently acclimatize the space.- The project could be seen as a sustainable example to utilize this type of abandoned old structures that crown ancient buildings in the city: making life possible on the roofs and adding density to the city with a more efficient use of urban space.
In April 2010 the exhibition Urban Intimacies, opened in Berlin’s Magnus Müller Gallery to show the potential of the livable space of OHLAB’s “Urban Shelter”. Urban Intimacies was curated by Tina DiCarlo, former curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and featured the work of various artists –photography collective Ciszak Dalmas Tamagno, poet Gonzalo Escarpa and graphic designers TresTiposGráficos- that were invited to inhabit each of the 15 original desires that originated the design of the house. The exhibition moved to Moscow’s National Museum of Architecture last September.